Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The annoying bit of stupidity in Resident Evil: Retribution (Spoilers)

See the thing in the title that says "spoilers"?  Yeah, there are spoilers here.

Ok, so there was just a free preview weekend and since I know that with my limited income and my dwindling savings at some point I'm going to have to ditch having TV coming in altogether a free preview weekend basically represents a frantic scramble to not just get as many of the films that I want as I can but also all the films I might ever want because at some point my ability to watch movies will be limited to what I have recorded.

I got a little under 30% of what I identified as potentials recorded.  A fair amount of that was simply overlapping times, but some came down to fuck ups.  The satellite receiver shut down for routine updates wiping out two things one night.  The next night I got a fresh DVD, removed the full DVD, and then somehow played a shell game on myself ending in putting the full DVD back in so there was just enough space left to record enough to show what I was trying to get, and then it cut out before I could get those three movies.

And one of the surprises when the frantic rush ended was that I got Resident Evil: Retribution three times.  What happened was this: one of the earliest attempts at taping was to get the movie, and it did, but it didn't get everything it was supposed to get and I got confused and thought the movie was one of the things it didn't get.  So I was still on the lookout to get it.  Which I did, mostly.  I missed so little that only someone who has an obsession with getting the whole thing, including the full opening and closing credits, would think another attempt worthwhile.  (Guess what kind of person I am.)  As it turned out when things were coming down to the wire I found myself on the lookout for anything that would fit into a certain slot so the time wouldn't be wasted and Resident Evil: Retribution, both sets of credits included, did.

So as someone who has three copies of the damn thing, and has just recently watched it with details fresh in my mind, I feel at least somewhat qualified to speak on the matter.


The movie starts where the last left off: Alice and crew have just taken the Umbrella ship but a fleet of evil aerial vehicles are coming in to kill everyone because a Resident Evil movie having a happy ending is impossible.  (Contrast this with the games where happy endings come standard.)  Explosions, people dying, Alice being knocked off the ship.

Then Alice wakes up in suburbia with a different hair cut.  At first it seems like she might be being gaslit but as the scene progresses she does more and more to indicate that she knows exactly what is (supposedly) going on and yada, yada, yada the undead attack, they bump into Rain, Alice puts up a good fight and defends her deaf daughter, but eventually she dies.

With no explanation we cut back to the Alice we know without clothes being interrogated.

Stuff happens, characters from the games show up (Ada Wong, Leon Kennedy) and with agonizing slowness we learn what's going on.

The Red Queen (AI from the first movie) isn't dead because... Jasper?  And Albert Wesker (from the games, who I thought should be played by Christopher Walken when I saw Walken on a talk show with that haircut, and who was killed off in the last movie) isn't dead because... a wizard did it?

The Red Queen has taken over Umbrella (evil corporation that makes zombies and worse) and thus kicked Wesker (former head which is a thing from the movies only) out causing a strange situation where Wesker is now on Alice's side in spite of spending a good solid two movies (out of the four previous) trying to kill her, possibly by vivisection or just plain eating her.

And with all of that mind screw through with we now come to the meat of the matter:

Alice took out all of Umbrella's surviving facilities, save one, in the space between movies three and four.  So only one survives to show up in this movie.  That one wasn't being used as a base of operations as it had a different purpose entirely.  It was designed for three purposes, though I think only two are mentioned but I seriously can't believe it wasn't designed with all three in mind: testing, demonstration, and disinformation.

The suburbia scene we saw earlier was actually inside of what amounted to a giant movie set.  It could allow any or all of three things to happen: Examining how things went down when the undead were unleashed upon suburbia, showing perspective buyers how things went down when the undead were unleashed upon suburbia, tricking someone into thinking the undead had already been unleashed upon suburbia.

And so the facility had things set up to look like various places, Moscow, New York, and Tokyo all come up.

Of course, to have an undead outbreak you need living people and so the facility also included a giant cloning apparatus so that every setting could be populated by real live human beings (they'd be given memories and skills to fit their roles in the current simulation.)  It is noted that every time there's a test a lot of humans end up dead/undead/whatever.  It's bad, you see.

And the reason we saw Alice in suburbia was that she was one of the basic models that was cloned to populate these death scenarios.

Ok, now we're all caught up to speed.

Giant cloning facility, Red Queen inside, Albert Wesker outside, Ada Wong infiltrating, Alice escaping, a team coming in to meet them, a little deaf girl who thinks Alice is her mother because a now-dead clone of Alice was playing that role in the most recent simulation, stuff.

Here's where the whole thing goes sideways and gets fucked up.

The Red Queen was the antagonist of the first movie because she was trying to save the human race.  That was her purpose and she was willing to commit mass murder to do it.  If she had to kill everyone involved in order to stop the virus from getting out then by God she was going to do it.  For her the blood on her holographic hands was nothing compared to what would befall humanity if the virus got out.

She was killed because some people thought that they'd really rather live and they could do that without letting the virus out.  For what it's worth, they were right.  The virus got out after the two survivors of that group were captured and the people who did it then did something very stupid (they opened the facility in which the virus was contained and in so doing unleashed it upon the world.)

That's the Red Queen's entire character: She will do whatever it takes to give humanity as a whole the greatest chance of survival even if it means killing off the protagonists because humanity's odds are marginally better if they die in a contained space than make it to freedom.

The Red Queen is the protector of humanity.  The mass murdering, occasionally sadistic, protector of humanity.  Her only purpose is to protect humanity.  Her character is driven entirely by her desire, her need, to protect humanity.

Have I hammered this point home enough?

Apparently some zombie met the Red Queen on the road to Damascus and converted her because now, without explanation, she's trying to wipe out humanity.

That makes sense how?

That's not the annoying bit of stupidity.

Two movies ago, movie three, Alice met up with one of the Red Queen's siblings.  An AI of a different color but clearly the same line.  (The AIs like to express themselves as holograms, and the holograms are in the form of a little girl for reasons that made sense at the time.)  That AI explained to Alice that the facility she was in, one which Alice did not, so far as we know, blow up, contained everything Alice needed to reverse the effects of the virus.  The zombies would become people again, humanity would be saved, and the AI was going to help Alice with that task.

The only reason it hadn't been done before was that Alice herself was an important component of that whole thing.  Umbrella tested on all sorts of people but Alice was the only virus carrier they could find.  And whatever it was about Alice that made her that way happened after they got the samples from which the clones were made.  Thus locked within Alice was the key to being able to have someone infected with the virus not turn into a monster and unlocking that secret would allow them to turn the monsters back into people.

We haven't heard from the good AI since and Alice has not returned to the facility with everything needed to save the world because she's been busy.  But that would seem an important thing to think about.  It's been left out of the movies since then.

That's not the annoying bit of stupidity.

This is:

At the end of the movie it's learned from the "Hey, didn't I kill you already?" Albert Wesker that all that remains of humanity is in a relatively small area of what was once Washington D.C.  Because of the "Hey, didn't I kill you already?" Red Queen's campaign of total genocide against the entire human race, whom she is sworn to protect as her only purpose in life, humanity is a species on the brink of extinction.

What all of this means is that it would help, really help, if the surviving humans had some sort of way to get a lot more humans to bolster their numbers.  What they could use more than anything right now would be some sort of giant cloning facility where the clones could be given whatever memories or training was required for the moment in order to support the other surviving remnants of humanity and even the odds against the seemingly never ending supply of undead.

The clones, it's demonstrated pretty clearly, are in fact people even if they are created at whatever their current age is (mostly adults) and their memories, if they're given them, are lies.  The clones, thus, are humanity, a rather large part of it, and humanity's last best hope.

So, you would think the movie would be about taking over the cloning facility and using it for good, right?

Whether you would or not the answer is no.  A scratching the edge of extinction humanity with a desperate need for more people that learns of a facility that has the answers to their every prayer in the form of the one thing they need more than anything else (People) decides that the best course of action is to blow the facility up.


Compared to that the amount of time (forever and a day) it takes Alice to realize that maybe she should remove the mind control device from her ally Jill Valentine --so Jill will stop trying to kill and start trying to help her-- barely registers as a problem.

There are two possible ways to save humanity at this point.  One is to go back to the facility with the resources needed to turn zombies back into people.  The other is to make use of the cloning facility to start growing humanity because this whole war of attrition thing has not been going their way.

The first is not even considered, the second is blown up.

Unless the Resident Evil movies exist to teach us that humanity is too stupid to live something is seriously fucked up here.

Even more so because movie three ended with an understanding of the value of clones.  Alice and her many clones all teamed up to take down the common enemy that was Umbrella.  That's how Umbrella was basically eliminated in the space between movies three and four.  The only resources left to Umbrella after the great anti-Umbrella clone team up were a boat and the cloning/testing/demonstration facility featured in Resident Evil: Retribution.

Saying to a bunch of clones, "Hey, the world is fucked up, want to help me fix it?" demonstrably works.  This movie was one with a whole bunch of clones in various flavors and a desperate need for people to help fix the fucked up world.  No one considered making use of the clones.  Again: what the fuck?


  1. Mass reversion of zombies to humans also seems as though it would be Kind Of A Good Idea.

    But I will admit that the only bit of these films I've seen is the laser corridor from the first one. In which we learn that the AI has a sense of humour.

  2. Wait, you saw the latest film as consistent with the continuity of the earlier ones, and not a complete reboot? Gah. I'm going to have to watch it again, then. I took the presence of all those earlier settings (and characters) to imply that the previous films weren't outside-world events, but rather a series of simulation sequences using cloned-and-imprinted human beings as test subjects - basically a complete retcon of the story.

    Either way (and I suspect your take on it is the correct one), this is my least-favorite installment of the series.

  3. I don't play the game so after the first movie I've had many "WTF?!" moments where all of a sudden there were new characters/places/events I was supposed to recognize and know the back story of but didn't. This I could accept, knowing going into see the movies that it was likely there would be game references I wouldn't get. That being said, I spent the entire time I watched this last one saying "WTF?! This makes no sense whatsoever. NONE. Whatsoever!" I pretty much figured that at least 5 people were responsible for parts of the script and they were never allowed to talk to each other or find out what the others were writing. That is still the only explanation that made sense to me.

    This movie stretched even my credulity to the breaking point (and I've been willing to watch and enjoy some fairly improbably and even bad stuff), so I'll be taking a pass on any future Resident Evil stuff.

    1. The games would only somewhat help. The first movie was supposed to be a sort of prequel to the games and maintain continuity with them. It didn't fare well on that point, but it was vaguely possible. The second movie and after flatly contradict the games in all possible ways.

  4. (Ugh, lost my comment. Will try to be just as witty this time.)

    I have a soft spot in my heart for this series, in spite (or perhaps because) it's so terrible. But I hadn't noticed this before and NOW IT BUGS ME. (LOL.) Though I was already bugged that Alice lost all her clones in the facility attack, when she should have left one behind to make more (assuming they didn't exhaust all the resources) and there should have been squadrons sweeping the country curing/killing zombies.

    I mean, I know Umbrella is legitimately a threat, but it felt like a revenge quest, and Alice isn't supposed to be motivated by PERSONAL revenge; she blends revenge with protection of innocents. >.<

    But I couldn't watch this iteration without thinking of Mike Rowe and the Dirty Jobs crew. "Cleaning a bio-weapons facility between demonstrations! *nods* It's a dirty job."

    1. And since he is Mike Rowe you know that he'd point out that to get that shot Troy had to kneel on the disgusting open abdomen of a zombie victim and ended up with entrails stuck to him for the rest of the day because no matter how hard he tried they just wouldn't come off.

    2. He really would! I can see it now. :)

      The "unexpected" thing that always goes wrong is that there'd still be a live zombie loose and Barsky would have to shoot it. Obviously. :P